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Instituted in 1901, this was the first medal to be authorised by the then new King. It was awarded to mainly West African forces, as British units were preoccupied with the war in South Africa at the time, although a few British officers & NCOs who were attached to local forces received it.

This 'small war' occurred as the result of a misunderstanding by the colonial administration. The Resident Sir Fredrick Hodgson failed to understand the tribal significance of the so-called 'Golden Stool' - basically the old Ashanti throne that was in the possession of the recently instated Gold Coast government. When asked to produce the item at a meeting with the chiefs the request was denied. Insulted, this provoked a backlash from the Asantahene, or chiefs of the three Ashanti tribes and the garrison in the capital Kumassi was besieged - Hodgson included.

This was the third time in 26 years that Kumassi (Coomassie) became the centre of a fight between native & colonial troops and the garrison was duly relieved on 15 July 1900 by Colonel James Willcocks and a force of around 1000 men. Willcocks then augmented his force to 3500 men with the soldiers from the garrison and brought one of the rebel tribes to battle and subsequent defeat at Obassa. Both defenders and members of the relief columns received the medal with the clasp 'Kumassi'.

This 'small war' was fought under extremely harsh conditions during the wet season, against a well-armed & disciplined native army and many of the thousand or so casualties incurred perished from disease rather than the enemy's bullets.

Also issued in bronze to native carriers, this particular issue is scarce. The medal in silver is not common and comes in two distinct strikings - one in a lighter definition than the other.

Edited by Tony Farrell

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To add mine, incredibly rare to the Indian Army. This is the only one I've seen in 30+ years. Few Indians served in West Africa, though many in East and Central Africa. Named "3297 SEPOY HAZARA SINGH. 15TH SIKHS".

Edited by Ed_Haynes

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To add mine, incredibly rare to the Indian Army. This is the only one I've seen in 30+ years. Few Indians served in West Africa, thougfh many in East and Central Africa. Named "3297 SEPOY HAZARA SINGH. 15TH SIKHS".

Ed

Were the 15th Sikhs there, or was your man attached to another unit or to a British officer ? One hads heard, for example, of two 5 or 6 bar QSA's to Indians: both were orderlies for "Bobs Bahadur" (General Roberts).

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Ed

Were the 15th Sikhs there, or was your man attached to another unit or to a British officer ? One hads heard, for example, of two 5 or 6 bar QSA's to Indians: both were orderlies for "Bobs Bahadur" (General Roberts).

Good questions. I have not checked the Ashanti rolls in London, though they usually cheerfully ignore Indians in Indian Army units, listing only Europeans in those regiments. The Indian rolls, if they survived the British bonfires of 1947 and post-1947 office cleaning, would be in New Delhi, but in the MoD not National Archives, alas. I doubt Hazara Singh would have been "attached" to any gora officer, for small Indian Army detachments routinely wound up in many places where they were not "officially" present. "Odd men" abound.

The parallel question of QSAs and KSAs to Indians is very complex and a friend is trying in disentangle the records on these, though it gets all tied up in the decisions which had Indian revenues pay for the South African adventure, while excluding Indian troops from service there. This issue is strange controversial among many British these days, and I'd rather not go into it here.

Edited by Ed_Haynes

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